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Minimize the downside of social media buttons

Social media buttons: As the beloved Frosted Flakes mascot Tony the Tiger likes to say, they’re grrrrreat!

 
OK, you caught us. Tony the Tiger doesn’t say that. Well, he does, but he’s talking about cereal. But if Tony the Tiger ever went into website design (it’s 2014, Tony — better roll with the changes), he’d be just as impressed by social media buttons.

 
By adding these icons to your business website, you let visitors easily access your social accounts. With just one click, they can visit you on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and many more places.

 
Because these icons are instantly recognizable, they add immediate credibility to your site. Hey, there’s YouTube! Let’s check out your videos! Hey, there’s Pinterest! Let’s see images of the products and services you provide!

 
There’s plenty of upside to including social buttons on your site; unfortunately, there’s a downside as well. As great as social buttons are, they also tend to cause a substantial slowdown on your page load speed.

 
In this newsletter, we’ve explained before — as recently as last month, in fact — how important page load speed is to your site. In 2014, people expect pages to load in no more than a couple of seconds.

 
If it takes longer, they go elsewhere. For every extra second it takes, the bounce rate — visitor flight — increases dramatically. That’s the last thing you want.

 
And that’s only part of the equation. In everything you do on your business website, you’re focusing on serving two masters: the actual human visitors and the search engines, particularly Google, that crawl your site and determine its usefulness.

 
When a site loads slowly, Google penalizes it. If you had two otherwise identical sites where one loaded
slowly and the other loaded in the blink of an eye, Google would rank the latter site much higher. That’s how important it is to optimize your page load speed.

 
So what’s the answer? Well, you can go one of two ways. You can get rid of social buttons entirely, or you can find ways to link to your social media accounts without bogging down your site.

 
First, consider how important social buttons are to your business. At Ring Ring Marketing, we encourage you to include social media in your marketing efforts, but we’re also realistic.

 
We realize many small businesses don’t have time to really invest in regular social media updates. If that’s the case with your company, perhaps it’s best to hold off on social buttons — at least until you have the time and/or resources to really get your social media cranking.

 
If you do have a strong social media campaign going, you should definitely include image-based links to your social sites. However, you don’t necessarily need to use actual social widgets, which bog down your site speed.

 
Instead, you can simply use images of the icons and link them to your accounts. You lose some utility with this process — users won’t be able to “Like” or “Plus One” your site with a simple click — but the improved site speed might be worth the compromise.

 
Additionally, you can use CCS Sprites to load these images much more quickly. Your Ring Ring Marketing representative can help you with this process.

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